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Chemistry International
Vol. 24, No. 6
November 2002


New Books and Publications

The Science of Sweeteners
A special topic issue of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Vol. 74, No. 7, 2002
IUPAC, 2002. (ISBN 0-09678550-4-7)

A recent Special Topic Issue of Pure and Applied Chemistry was devoted to the "Science of Sweeteners." The issue derives from the 2nd International Symposium on Sweeteners, which was held 13-17 November 2001 in Hiroshima, Japan under the auspices of IUPAC. (The 1st symposium was held July 1997 in Jerusalem, Israel.)

The health problems caused by the extensive use of sweeteners in the human diet still persist. Ingestion of excessive high-calorie saccharides such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose has been linked to dental caries, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and many dietary-dependent diseases. Consequently, the development of safe, low-calorie, noncariogenic sweeteners has been the focus of intense (and sometimes controversial) scientific, commercial, and public interest.

In light of their tremendous potential commercial and medical benefits, compounds from a variety of chemical categories have been investigated as "sugar substitutes." Synthetic heterocyclic compounds, saccharides, halogenated saccharides, sugar alcohols, plant glycosides (terpenoids, steroids, and phenolics), peptides, and proteins have been examined.

Cross-modality representation of human taste qualities. Psychophysical studies suggest that human taste sensation can be divided into five distinct categories: amai (sweet), suppai (sour), shoppai (salty), nigai (bitter) and umami (glutamate). Modified from the original silkscreen by John Lennon. Figure reproduced from Margolskee, Pure and Applied Chemistry Vol. 74, No. 7, pp. 1125-1133 (2002)


Research on sweeteners encompasses a diverse set of scientific disciplines involving physiology, molecular biology, synthetic chemistry, structural chemistry, enzyme chemistry, food chemistry, pharmacology, nutritional science, preventative medicine, and dental science. Because of this diversity in research disciplines, it has been difficult for individual scientific societies to comprehensively deal with sweeteners. Adding to the complexity of the problem, legislation on the commercial use of sweeteners varies from country to country. Therefore, there have been numerous national symposia and scientific publications focusing on select aspects of sweeteners.

The aim and purpose of this symposium was to bring together scientists and technologists from a variety of disciplines from all over the world. The goal of this diverse assembly was to allow the participants to get a comprehensive perspective on sweetener research. Ultimately, it is hoped that this will lead to new approaches and contribute to further progress on sweeteners.

The symposium was chronologically divided into four sessions. The first day concentrated on the topics of chemoreception and biochemical aspects of receptors. The second day was directed mainly toward naturally intense sweeteners, including design and synthesis. The third day was spent on the topics of oligosaccharides and sugar alcohols, and the last day was devoted to the potential role of sweeteners in the etiology and prevention of disease.

The symposium comprised 11 invited lectures, 20 symposium lectures, 10 contributed papers, and 28 poster contributions. There were 181 participants from 21 countries. Ample time was provided for fruitful discussions of the comprehensive science of sweeteners. Besides the main sponsor, IUPAC, extensive support was obtained from the many sponsors as indicated in the individual abstracts. This issue is the result of an invitation to participants to submit for publication articles based on their presentations. It reflects well the panorama of subjects covered in the symposium with respect to both fundamental aspects and the importance of current and new research on the development of sweeteners. The topics covered vary from receptor studies to natural sweeteners to design and synthesis of sweeteners to industrial applications.

This issue was coordinated by professor J. Bull, IUPAC special topics editor and professor Mugio Nishizawa, conference editor.
Preface by Kazuo Yamasaki, Symposium chairman, and Osamu Tanaka, Planning Committee chairman.



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